top of page

Marketing for new businesses is like coaching a high performing sports team

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

Marketing is a complex beast. It ebbs and flows and changes in its preferences. Its performance is affected by internal and external factors, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

Marketing does not sleep. It needs to be nurtured. Marketing requires us as marketers to understand its desires so that we can coach our ‘team of marketing channels’ to perform as best they can in their position.

So, what’s this all about then?

I think of the marketing channels that I’m running at any given time like a sports team that I would be coaching. 

My channels work together for a unified goal. They’re all working to achieve key business objectives. Often, channels work together to nurture your audience towards and objective – just like a team. They each have roles and responsibilities.

If I asked you to name a footballer you’d probably say someone like Gary Ablett (if you’re into AFL) or Christiano Ronaldo (if you’re into soccer – or… football). They’re great, fantastic players. Their ball handling is unchallenged and they’re masters at kicking goals. Put them in defence though and you’ll see gaps in their performance.

On the flipside, choose a defender and place them in the reverse role and the same will happen.

If your awareness (backline) isn’t working well, then we’ll never give our consideration, conversion – let alone retargeting – a chance to work. Much the same, if we have performing awareness, but poorly performing consideration, conversion, retargeting – then we can never expect our objectives to be achieved.

We tend to have a bias towards that which we think we know will perform. We’ve heard of good players and rarely heard of the undiscovered players. But, every player starts by being the undiscovered. It takes someone to find them, believe in them and provide them with the best opportunity to perform.

We’ve all seen an awesome TV ad or chuckled while listening to the radio. We’ve all looked at our phones and wondered ‘are they listening to my conversations to advertise to me?!’. We’ve all seen and heard of ways to market which work. But you know what happens when everyone knows about something? Competition, cost and time increases – value decreases. And what does everyone tend to talk about? What worked well.

When marketing a new business, it’s important to find channels that provide the best balance of cost/time investment and reward. Focus must be on determining this and optimising channels which prove worthy.

Okay, so how do we do this?

The Reserves

I like to start by running through all the different channels that we can think of and fleshing out ideas of how we could use those channels. I like to call them our Reserves – the basis for our team. For each new client I work with, we have some fun listing potential channels and base strategies which could work in each of those channels.

Once I’ve populated our Reserves with various different channels and strategies / tactics I could use, I then like to form hypotheses for what I’d like these channels to do. Am I asking them to be my forward or my back? Will they stand in the ruck or will they be goalie? 

In marketing terms, how will the channels I’ve selected benefit my marketing funnel and what objectives am I testing them for? Which channels do I think are most probable, based on industry data, analysis and intuition, to work? 

Once I can answer those questions, I prioritise the 3 channels most likely to succeed and move them to my ‘bench’.

The Bench

Now that I have a bench set up and we have objectives that the bench is required to prove, I can start to run some tests. The purpose of these tests is to confirm our hypotheses and either accept the tested channels to the bench or move them back to the reserves.

*Remember, these channels deserve time and attention to attempt different strategies and tactics before giving up on them. These channels deserve your attention and a few attempts with differing strategies / tactics.

So, what do I do with our channels that prove themselves to us? 

We prioritise them over the rest and add them to our starters. They’ve been given a chance in the A-Team to continue running.

The Starters

Our starters are the channels that work for us – the investment produces a worthwhile return and our starters are helping us to nurture our audience from awareness through to conversion.

The failures? Back to the reserves!

Now, I have a team full of potential marketing channels and a process to prioritise them with purpose. I too now have reason to move and place them around my field for best performance.

Our business now has a reason to invest in any of these channels and a purpose to achieve.


Our Starters are operating on an ongoing basis. They’re performing their objectives and nurturing our audiences towards our objectives so that we can achieve our goals.

Our Bench are in testing. They have objectives to achieve should they want to continue. If not, they’re back to the drawing board.

Our Reserves are waiting for us to have enough information, analysis and understanding to run an effective test. They’re future prospects which may be a hidden gem.

And there you have it. Marketing and sport – together at last.


Hedgehog is run by Josh. Josh helps small businesses to sell more online with detailed advice, planning and management. Learn more here.


bottom of page